Sometimes, it was a wonder that her hand actually held his completely. He thought that all this time, his hand was larger but now, it actually fit perfectly in hers.
"Wait… Don't talk yet."
No stuttering now? He shrugged, looking away, meeting the colorful banquet around him. The whole hall of the fiancée's home was prepared for today's occasion. Not just with the flowers brooding along but also because of the important people that arrived. He was not the type to get used to such things in reality but since coming here cleared his fogged mind, he already felt better.
The blond Begleiter glanced over to look at the auburn haired teenager, "What is it?"
"I know that you hate this kind of events but…" she lightly shook her head and sighed. "Thanks for coming."
"Don't mention it."
He looked away again, his eyes settling at the luxury that he was supposed to have. He had long forgotten how it feels to wish desperately that he were a part of the Warren family. Since he was born, he's always kept in a distance. He remembered seeing his younger brother and younger sister swarming around his parents with a bunch of stories to tell. He also remembered his cousins going around the district park while playing with swords. He wasn't a part of any of these scenes; he was just on the backdrop silently waiting 'til they finally put him on the script.
He felt a light squeeze on his gloved hand and he turned to her again, puzzled. Her lips curled to a smile.
"Smile too, okay?"
He placed his forefinger on the edge of his lips and using it, he pulled his lips up to a half smile. "Satisfied?"
She leaned forward and kissed the edge of his lips that rise earlier. A blush resurfaced on his face making him burn.
He released a breath and as if it's a natural, a smile came after.
He cannot find her. The whole room was packed that wherever he places his eyes he couldn't see her and he could not remember when they were separated.
He sharply turned the beverage on his glass moving as he did so. In front of him stood a doll like figure with doe-like sapphire eyes, long well kept ebony hair, and controlled curves. If he remembered correctly, this person is Major Urwin's fiancée.
"I was with Lady Shiori. I somehow lost her in the crowd."
He felt like his gut is twisting since the air around them seemed to be heavy and unbearable. Major Urwin's fiancée wasn't what he imagined her to be. He was looking out for a nice woman, someone that he could get comfort with as soon as they started talking. She was different because one word from her makes him desire to escape even before he got tangled with her.
"H-How about you, Lady-?"
Major Urwin's fiancée tilted her head to the side. "Uh, call me Fiore, Fiore Caselle. I am looking for George also since he just excused himself to get us some drinks."
"Then… um, Lady Fiore, I should look for Shiori already."
Major Urwin's fiancée smiled at him, the type of smile that never actually pleased him. It frightened him to some extent where he could have felt his knees fall.
"T-Then please excuse me."
He quickly walked away from her, careful not to glance at his back. His eyes whipped around desperately trying to make out a head filled with auburn hair and the soft laughter of the woman he was with.
He didn't know why but he had a bad feeling that if he ever stayed there for too long, he might fall to a certain trap where he was the only target.
He turned and quickly side stepped before he bumped his face on an old woman's arm. He glanced at the other hall, hoping to see her but he failed to see anything but the different colors coming from different people's clothes.
He was sure that he heard her but she's still not around.
"Shiori?! Where did you go?"
"Natsu!" Shiori had to slap the blond without hesitation since he was sleep talking and even though she kept answering that she was there, the other just won't budge.
Konatsu stirred, opening his heavy lids and meeting darkness in its stead. "S-Shiori?"
"Are you alright? You fainted all of a sudden." She said with a tinge of worry that laced itself on her tone. "Seriously, don't scare me like—"
Arms wormed itself around her purposely cutting off her sentence. "N-Natsu?"
"Don't leave me all of a sudden Shiori. Do not forget that inviting me here makes me your responsibility!"
"But I didn't go anywhere." She could have sworn it over her dead body and he'll think that she's joking but as clear as day, the Begleiter was nervous.
She nervously laughed as she put his arms away from her. "Look, how can I leave you when you fainted all of a sudden when Lady Fiore and Major Urwin went out of the balcony? I was about to think that you are jealous of what happened."
She was smiling jokingly but the Begleiter still looked serious. He was even looking at her as if she could grow another head all of a sudden.
"O...Okay, did you have a bad dream, Natsu?"
He looked away trying to look as if nothing happened to him.
She sighed audibly. "Well that's too bad… Want to head home?"
"No..." He stood up, his boots made a creaking sound on the marble ground. "I would not waste what you came here for."
She felt the sudden heat attacking her face as she stood up too, her arm brushing his lightly.
"Let's head back."
The two of them walked through the halls silently, not a single word escaped their mouths, and their breathing synchronized perfectly. The atmosphere has been heavy ever since Konatsu woke up.
The music and the people's chatter seemed dead to their ears with only their footsteps as guide to somewhere near. It was a destination that only the two of them knew-an exit far from this place.
"Lady Shiori! Lady Shiori!"
The sudden call perked Shiori's attention that she grabbed at Konatsu's cape stilling him from walking. The blond begleiter turned slightly with a questioning look.
"I'm here!" Shiori called out, raising her hand for the caller to see her. Footsteps followed each, heavy after the other, the call of urgency apparent in every sound. Soon it skidded to a stop, revealing a panting lady-in-waiting with her white dress fluttering in the frenzy.
"You were calling for me, what is it?" Shiori asked, trying to sound formal and respectable.
"Major Urwin wanted to talk to you," the lady-in-waiting informed, her breathing ragged as she spoke those words.
Shiori nodded dismissively, her hand going to Konatsu's and giving it a light squeeze. Konatsu nodded back stepping a lone step ahead.
"A-Ah, the Major wanted to talk to you only, he told me that it was pretty personal so I am afraid that—"
"Wait… wait," Shiori mumbled, her brows furrowed closely to one another. "It's fine, this is just a friend, and besides he can wait outside right?"
The lady-in-waiting's fingers twitched nervously unsure of what she should do and afraid of getting a scolding.
Shiori watched the lady-in-waiting under the fringe of her eyelashes curiously. Then with a finality of sigh, she patted the former. "You're new here, aren't you?"
The lady-in-waiting nodded, still nervous with her decisions.
"Well then, I will be responsible for what decision Major Urwin would make. So if possible, can you take us to him?" Shiori asked with a lighthearted smile for reassurance.
The lady-in-waiting smiled a little before finally sighing, "Please follow me."
"That was a pretty good way to handle things, Shiori. I'm impressed." Konatsu praised when it was only the two of them walking the halls devoid of people.
"Really?" she asked blushing all of a sudden once again at the blond's remark.
"Yes," he said seriously, "It was different from the Shiori that I know because it's so natural."
"Well when I was little, I always get new assistants because of behavior problems…"
"And now you finally understood them?"
"It took thirteen lady assistants for me to understand that… and now I'm pretty close to the fourteenth one."
"Of course I am…" Shiori shook her head at Konatsu's disbelief. She knew that it would just take two days and a night to convince the blond. "Drop it…"
"Really, just tell me more, it's not like it would hurt."
"The door is opening~"
"Oi, Shiori, don—"
A finger was pressed to his lips preventing his future words from coming out as Shiori smiled. "Wait for me here, okay?"
He looked away, nodding a little.
The auburn haired teen turned and opened the door to Major Urwin's room while the blond watched her disappear.
"Natsu… do you remember that time?"
Konatsu laughed a bit now seeing nothing but a woman, the one that he kept on bullying and looking down to. The one that he always beat on sword sparring and even on mechanical fights, the one who always throws up after and the very one who kept on supporting him.
She was different already, now that after this party, she might move one step forward and he will surely fall back.
"I need to move faster 'til I reach you again then," he said with a sigh, pride bubbling up to him.
"You are Konatsu Warren from the Warren family, right?"
Konatsu stepped back surprised to hear a sudden voice. He turned seeing Lady Fiore in her dashing white gown filled with black laces and red ribbons.
"A-Ah, nice to be in your honor Lady Fiore, indeed I am from the Warren family."
"You are detached from them?"
"I-I… No, it's not the case here."
Konatsu swallowed hard, gulping back the lump on his throat. His head felt heavy all of a sudden while he tried hard to look straight on her mulberry eyes. It was a peculiar pair wrapped in nothingness and masked by her smile. He cannot look into them directly but he's sure that it was trying to suck him in.
"Lady Agatha and Young Master Cromwell just gave me their greetings earlier; they look pretty much like you do, especially Cromwell..."
"A-Ah… how are they?"
"They are doing well."
He twitched, not getting where the conversation is going. Lady Fiore is acting as if she knew everything about him and his family. It was starting to twist his stomach the same way it reacted when he saw her in his dream.
"Is that so… I haven't seen them in awhile ever since I entered the Military."
In addition, if anyone ever thought of asking how he really felt, he would say that he's actually sick of seeing his family happy. He was sick of knowing if they are fine and sick of knowing if they ever worry about him. All of his life all he had seen was bloodshed.
"They don't seem to recall even that."
"Lady Fiore, with all due respect please—"
Glass touched his cheek stopping him from speaking as cold breath touched his face. Lady Fiore smiled at him while pressing the wine glass harder.
"It doesn't suit you so don't pull such a face, Begleiter." She whispered, her voice ghastly to his ears only distinguishing his incensed temper. "Here, you should calm down in a while."
The wine glass containing the bright red liquid travelled to his gloved hand before the Lady cut out their distance.
"What is this, my lady?"
"It's just wine, besides you're off age to take that."
Konatsu breathed heavily and hesitantly he took the cold liquid in his mouth. The liquid maneuvered its way down his throat while he watched Major Urwin's fiancée from his lids. She also started to drink slowly from her cup while watching him at the same time.
When he finished, she still had her head a bit raised, cup on her lips. He held the cup and was about to pass it to her when his vision started to came off as hazy. His feet confused on the ground as if everything around him suddenly turned sideward with a swish on the left.
What's going on?
He tried to focus his gaze at Lady Fiore but even she looks out of this world. She's in a daze which he would be impossible to break into because of his current hazy state.
"L-Lady F-Fiore, please head out!" he screamed in the little voice that he could muster and with little force, he pushed her inside the hallway to her fiancée's room. The door closed with a loud thud and his cup crashed into pieces.
Konatsu fell to his knees, his vision haze, and his mind failing to correspond to proper technical issues.
Will Shiori be al—
His weight gave in then crashed to the cold ivory ground.
"Why are you sooo uptight again today? Is this about her?"
Konatsu felt a lump forming on his throat as soon as he turned defensively to the Major.
"I am thinking of noble and proper paper work, Major Hyuuga. So if you'd excuse me, I will finish this pile that you randomly threw at me. Will that be okay with you?"
The blond begleiter simply turned away, masking his face with another façade of numbness. He learned to keep it on during this past three months anteceding Shiori's death. All this time, he will push the covers off himself in the morning. Cold sweat will rush down from his forehead and he will hear her dying screams while he watched her fall that time.
It wasn't pleasant, it made him jittery when someone would randomly tap his shoulder he'll turn to them as if he had seen a ghost. The guilt and the denial just kept on mixing in his stomach but it was so stubborn to even head out of him.
He heard a loud thud; he was snapped out of his daze after since the papers that he was holding suddenly burst out, scattering on the floor like feathers left by a migratory bird.
He got to his knees quick to pick up papers feeling panicky because anyone might step on it. He screamed at his mind thinking about how stupid he can be at such times. And while he is in disarray, his hand suddenly touched someone's knee that he backed away, red in embarrassment.
The owner of the knee only pulled her military cup down silently then stood up. He looked up only to see a small pale face that encased bright and blank cobalt blue irises and short silver hair.
A girl in the Main Branch?
The girl nodded at him then walked away silently as if he is not worth talking to. He resumed picking up with a scowl.
What's her problem?
"So you finally met him even though you just arrived?" Major Hyuuga asked while resting his chin on his palm.
The snow white haired girl nodded, a cobalt blue gaze directed at the major. "…Yeah, there's nothing special about him."
"Are you going to commence the operation nonetheless?"
She nodded again and looked to the side. From the outside, a bright white aircraft was about to descend. Birds were flying in the distance and men clad in military uniform were walking in opposite directions.
"… I need to find more about this murder."
"Is that so?" Major Hyuuga smiled, curiosity dipping from his tone. "Then welcome to our place. I shall tour you around."
"I don't have any further need for that. I need to get to business. Farewell."
The girl left and it oddly reminds the Major of someone.